Rhode Island Public Defense

Public defense issues and developments in Rhode Island

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Rhode Island Workload Study

The Sixth Amendment's promise that every person accused of a crime is entitled to counsel is a hollow one when the attorney appointed lacks the time and resources to provide meaningful representation.

In order to determine whether defenders in Rhode Island are facing a caseload crisis, NACDL, the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants (ABA SCLAID), and the accounting firm of BlumShapiro undertook an assessment of the Rhode Island Public Defender system ("RIPD"). The findings of this study, along with the underlying data and analysis are detailed in The Rhode Island Project: A Study of the Rhode Island Public Defender System and Attorney Workload Standards.

Based upon the data gathered, the RIPD would require 136 full-time equivalent attorneys to provide the necessary minimum level of representation needed for the average 15,000 plus new cases assigned each year. As of July 2017, there were only 49 public defenders in the entire state. 

More on Public Defense Caseloads

New Study Reveals 'Profound and Dramatic Understaffing' of Rhode Island Public Defense System, Nov. 16, 2017
Public Defender Overworked and Understaffed, by Katie Mulvaney, Providence Journal, Dec. 15, 2017

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